SEL Team

Meet the SEL Team


SEL Director

Pete Price | 512-414-8728 |

Pete taught social studies and coached multiple sports at middle schools in New Hampshire, Belgium, and Austin for ten years. He has served as a campus administrator for 24 years, including 17 as the principal of O. Henry Middle School in AISD. After observing the student benefits from a whole child focus for his entire career, he became a passionate advocate for SEL since AISD partnered with CASEL in 2011. He was named Director of SEL in July 2016.

SEL Assistant Director

Caroline Chase | 512-414-9690 |

Caroline taught high school English and Communication Skills for eight years, middle and high school students in residential treatment for two years, and middle school self- contained social behavioral skills for six years. She also served for five years as a Special Education Behavior Specialist. She joined the SEL Department in July, 2011, and serves as the team lead.


SEL Communications Specialist

Victoria Birkeland | 512-414-0872 |

Victoria joined the Social and Emotional Learning team in the spring of 2017. Before that, she worked in the private sector for more than 10 years gaining experience in marketing, communications and public relations.

SEL Mindfulness Specialist

James Butler |

James has 14 years of teaching experience, mostly in Pre-K and K; here in Austin he's taught at Winn, Barbara Jordan, T.A. Brown and most recently at Gullett Elementary. In 2009, James volunteered as a HS English and Math teacher at Mangetti Combined School in Namibia. In 2014, James was named Austin ISD Teacher of the Year. He recently wrote a mindfulness curriculum for elementary schools called Mindful Classrooms: The Educator Guide. It's being used in over 60 schools and camps in six states. He joined the SEL team in July 2016 as the Mindfulness Specialist for AISD.

SEL Specialists



Angela Bailey

Angela taught First Grade and SCORES / Special Education for eight years at Boone Elementary. In her position as a SCORES/ Special Education teacher, Angela taught explicit social and emotional skills to students with an educational designation of Autism or Emotional Disturbance. She joined the SEL Department in July 2013 as an elementary specialist.

Aleza Sitarz

Aleza taught Second Step lessons at Pickle, Zavala and Blackshear elementary schools in Austin ISD for three years with LifeWorks, and led parent activities and adult training on SEL. Previously, she taught English in Thailand. She joined the SEL Department in July 2012 as an elementary specialist.


Alonzo Blankenship |

Alonzo empowered students, families and staff as a band director and teacher leader at Garcia YMLA and Webb Middle School for five years. He is a proud graduate of the UT Principalship Program, where his action research focused on deeper learning in the classroom through culturally responsive teaching. He joined the SEL team in August 2016 as an elementary specialist and is currently working as a secondary specialist with the goal of cultivating compassionate communities.

Darla Caughey |

Darla worked in Austin ISD for the past four years as an art specialist, integrating social and emotional learning as tools for creative expression. Prior to teaching in Austin ISD, Darla taught art, and first/second grade multiage in the Dallas area for 13 years. She joined the SEL Department in July 2013 as an elementary specialist.


Theresa Garcia |

Theresa has 15 years of teaching and consulting experience in the public and private sector, primarily in early childhood education. Here in Austin, she has taught at Walnut Creek and Blazier elementary schools. Her Montessori training greatly influences her work in social and emotional learning and peace education. Theresa joined the SEL Department in August 2016 as an elementary specialist.

Emily Hoaldridge-Dopkins |

Emily taught first and second grade in East Harlem for the past eight years. She specialized in educating students with the educational designation of autism or emotional disturbance within an inclusion classroom setting. Emily is featured in Daniel Goleman's book Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence, where her school and classroom implementation of mindfulness is highlighted. She joined the SEL Department in February 2016 as an elementary specialist.


Jason Littlefield |

Jason taught high school social studies for 10 years in Houston, Fort Worth and Bastrop. Prior to joining the SEL team he also served as a high school assistant principal and has coached football, baseball and powerlifting. Jason has also worked in schools in Taiwan, China and Benin, Africa. He joined the SEL Department in July of 2014 as a secondary specialist.

Katie O'Neil |

In her five-year teaching career before joining the SEL team, Katie taught theatre arts, science and AVID at two AISD middle schools. Before entering education, Katie led groups for young people addressing social / emotional well-being and healthy choices through the YWCA of Greater Austin, LifeWorks, SafePlace and other area nonprofits.​ She joined SEL in July 2014 as a secondary specialist.


Sarah E. Stone, LMSW |

Sarah is a proud graduate of Austin ISD schools. She worked with Austin Voices and Communities in Schools for 12 years prior to joining the district. Sarah has a special interest in dropout prevention and creating student-centered schools. She joined the SEL Department in July 2013 as a secondary specialist.

Lynne Unruh |​

Lynne was a special education teacher in Amarillo ISD for nine years, and a middle school counselor for three. Lynne worked for the past three years as a school counselor at Casis Elementary School. Lynne joined the SEL Department in July 2014 as an elementary specialist.


Families as Partners



Parent Support Coordinator

Maria Martell | 512.841.9615 |


Support Staff



Administrative Assistant

Dawn Goodman | 512-414-9791 |

Dawn has worked for Austin ISD  for 17 years, working with the math and technology departments. Dawn joined the SEL Department in August 2012, and supports the entire SEL team.

Budget Specialist

Arleth De La Cruz  | 512-414-0874 |